1. This is an appeal from an order of a Civil Judge, Banaras, refusing to set aside an award of arbitrators and passing a decree on its basis in Suit No. 54 of 1947. The pedigree given below shows the relationship existing among the parties to the appeal :
|- Gopal Lal
|- Moti Lal
|- Anant Prasad ------|- Nand Lal
| |- Kanhaiya Lal
| Das (Husband of |
KANHAIYA LAL-- | sister of Lal |
| Chand) |____ Hari Prasad ____|--Vinod | |--Shri Krishna |_____Srimati X (wife of--Mathura--Gopal--Amod |--Arbind Kumar Roop Narain) Das Das Kumar--|-- Anil Kumar
In 1841 the descendants of Kanhaiya Lal through his son and daughter, who naturally were members of two families started a joint money business in the name of Mathura Das Krishna Das. In the evidence this Business is referred to as "Kothi business". On 24-6-1934 the firm Mathura Das Krishna Das got itself registered as a partnership firm under the same title.
Later it started two more businesses, (1) in Kalabattu and (2) in Banarsi Saris; the Kalabattu business was known as Kumar Kalabattu Karkhana (named alter Amod Kumar) while the Banarsi Saris business was known as Jagarnath Das Barman, and was in partnership with a stranger to the family named Jiwan Das. On 22-11-1935 Jiwan Das, who was the working partner, died and the firm Jagarnath Das Barman was dissolved though the business in Banarsi Saris continued in the hands of the firm Mathura Das Krishna Das.
In 1935 the members of the two branches divided the three businesses among them by a mutual agreement; the Kalabattu business was given exclusively to Amod Kumar, the Banarsi Sari business was given exclusively to Hari Pra-sad and Anant Prasad and each of them was to pay interest to the firm Mathura Das Krishna Das for the capital invested by it in the two businesses. The agreement was in writing.
On 31-3-1935 Anant Prasad executed a will or family settlement laying down that the Kothi business should be run jointly by the two branches, that the Banarsi Saris business would be done by him and his heirs exclusively and that the Kalabattu business would be done by Amod Kumar exclusively. In 1937 he died and Hari Prasad assumed control of everything excluding the Kalabattu business.
2. Then differences arose between Hari Prasad, Anant Prasad's sons and Amod Kumar and on 19-3-1942 they entered into an arbitration agreement appointing Keshav Deo, a relation, as the sole arbitrator to decide the question of partition of Mathura Das Krishna Das. The arbitrator could not effect complete partition within the time allowed under the arbitration agreement.
So on 4-4-1943 the parties executed another arbitration agreement giving further time to the arbitrator to carry . out the partition. The arbitrator settled some disputes between the parties and even made some sort of an interim award but did not make any formal award. On 23-4-1945 Amod Kumar, Hari Prasad Kanhaiya Lal, Nand Lal, Moti Lal and Gopal Lal executed a third agreement referring the disputes over the partition of the Mathura Das Krishna Das and movable and immovable property to the arbitration of Vishnu Das and Lal Chand.
The arbitrators were authorized to appoint a Sarpanch and complete the partition within six months from the date of the agreement and get the award registered; they were given unlimited power to fix the shares of the parties and settle everything by open and secret inquiries and examination of the account books of the parties. The arbitrators could not make the award within the time allowed and on 23-7-1945 the parties executed another agreement extending the time.
On 2-8-1945 they executed a third agreement extending the time further and revising some of the conditions of the original agreement. The two arbitrators appointed one Debi Prasad as the Sarpanch but subsequently Debi Prasad resigned and the arbitrators appointed one Nand Kishore as the Sarpanch. On 21-9-1946 the arbitrators made their award and got it registered on the next day.
It was not signed by the Sarpanch Nand Kishore. The arbitrators on 23-9-1946 gave notice of the making of the award to the parties. On 1-11-1946 Hari Prasad asked the arbitrators to file the award in court and they expressed willingness to do so, but before they could do so Gppal Lal instituted Suit No. 157 of 1946 in the trial court on 22-11-1946 for a decree on the basis of the award. He got a commissioner appointed by the trial court to go to the house of Lal Chand arbitrator and seize the award and produce it before the court.
Accordingly the trial court issued a commission to a lawyer who in execution ot it obtained the delivery of the award and produced it in the court. On 17-3-1948 the suit was dismissed in. default and neither Gopal Lal applied for its restoration nor he or any of the parties to the suit (all the parties in this appeal were parties in that suit) preferred an appeal from it. On 16-12-1946 Hari Prasad also instituted a suit (suit No. 164 of 1946) purporting to be under Section 14 of the Indian Arbitration Act, 1940, for the award being made a rule of the court.
He also impleaded all the persons who were parties to the arbitration agreement. Since the award had already been produced in court by the commissioner in Suit No. 157 of 1946 he could not pray for the filing of the award; he stated in paragraph 8 that the arbitrators were taking action at his request to file the award in the court under Section 14(2) and that before they could do anything the commissioner went to Lal Chand and took possession of the award and produced it in court and the relief sought in the suit was that a decree be passed on the basis of the award already filed in court.
Summonses were issued to the parties and on 3-7-1947 Amod Kumar, Kanhaiya Lal eta, objected. On 14-5-1948 Hari Prasad's counsel stated that the suit was under Section 14(2) for getting the award filed in court, that as the award had already been filed, the purpose of the suit was achieved, that the relief of making the award a rule of the court had become superfluous and that nothing remained to be done in the suit. The court observed that the award had been filed in another case, that it could : not be made-a rule of the court under Section 14(2) and Hart Prasad also did not want it to be made a rule of the court and that nothing remained to be done in the suit and dismissed it.
Hari Prasad on 22-3-1948 applied for review of the order seeking a decree on the award but It was rejected on 27-11-1948 because there was no error apparent On the face of the record and there was no other sufficient reason for review.
3. I now come to the suits which gave rise to this appeal. On 10-3-1947 Amod Kumar applied under Section 33 for the setting aside of the award on several grounds; the suit was numbered as 54 of 1947. The, other suit was No. 86 of 1947 instituted by Kanhaiya Lal on 16-5-1947 under Section 33 for the setting aside of the award. Hari Prasad filed objections in the two suits but did not ask for a decree on the basis of the award.
In reply to the contentions of Amod Kumar and Kanhaiya Lal that the award was fit to be set aside on account of various reasons he did affirm in his pleadings that far from being fit to be set aside it was fit to be made a rule of the court but did not expressly or even implied-ly pray for a decree on the basis of the award. The award was in the record of Suit No. 157 of 1946 which was requisitioned by the trial court from the record room. On 30-1-1950 it dismissed both the suits, refused to set aside the award and passed the following order :
"Let this award be made a rule of the court and a decree in terms of the same be passed. The said order be made a part of the decree." Accordingly a clerk of the court prepared a decree. No judgment was pronounced on the award and the decree that has been prepared simply reproduced the last few words of the order dated 30-1-1950; its operative portion is as follows :
"Objection dismissed. The award is accepted and is made rule of the court and a decree be prepared."
4. The present appeal is filed by Amod Kumar against the order of the trial court dated 30-1-1950 dismissing his suit No. 54 of 1947. P. A. P, O. 155 of 1950 is by Kanhaiya Lal and his brothers Nand Lal and Moti Lal from the same order. F. A. F. O. No. 102 of 1950 is by Amod Kumar from the order of the trial court in Suit No. 86 of 1947 and F. A. F. O. No. 156 of 1950 is by Kanhaiya Lal from the same order. Thus Amod Kumar, Kanhaiya Lal, Nand Lal and Moti Lal have made a common cause and are the appellants before us; their appeals are contested by Hari Prasad respondent.
5. The appellants challenge the order of the trial court refusing to set aside the award on several grounds. They also challenge its passing a decree on the basis of the award on several grounds. Their counsel stated before us that if the decree passed by the trial court was set aside by us their object would be served and they would not press for the award being set aside.
The award can be enforced only through a decree passed under Section 17; so long as there is no decree passed on its basis the appellants are not aggrieved by its mere existence. In view of the statements made by counsel of the appellants we did not think it necessary to hear them at this stage on the question whether the award was fit to be set aside or not; we heard them only on the question whether the decree would be passed on its basis.
We have heard Sri Jagdish Swarup appearing for the respondent Hari Prasad and I am satisfied that the trial court had no jurisdiction to pass the decree. For the reasons that I shall give presently I am of the view that a decree on the basis of an award can be made only under Section 17, that the provisions of Section 17 can be applied only in a proceeding started with an application under Section 14 and that in a proceeding started under Section 33, when no proceeding started under Section 14 is pending, no decree can be passed and the only order that can be passed is one refusing to set aside the award.
Even apart from the question of jurisdiction I am of the view that the trial court had no justification to pass the decree without any prayer for the same by any of the parties to the arbitration agreement, without the question whether a decree could be passed or not being discussed or considered, without hearing the appellant on the question and in spite of the dismissal of the suits of Gopal Lal and Hari Prasad under Section 14.
6. Chapter II of the Arbitration Act lays down the provisions dealing with arbitration without intervention of a court. When the arbitrators have made their award they are required by Section 14(1) to sign it and to give notice to the parties of the making and signing it. Under subsection (2) they are required at the request of any party or at the direction of the court and upon payment of their fees and charges to cause the award or a signed copy of it to be filed in the court whereupon the court has to give notice to the parties of the filing. Section 15 authorises the court to modify or correct an award in certain circumstances and Section 16, to remit it from time to time to the arbitrators for reconsideration and return within the time fixed. Section 17 provides that
"Where the court sees no cause to remit the award ..... or to set aside the award, the court shall, after the time for making an application to set aside the award has expired, or- such application having been made, after refusing it, proceed to pronounce judgment according to the award, and upon the judgment so pronounced a decree shall follow, and no appeal shall lie from such decree except on the ground that it is in excess of, or not otherwise in accordance with, the award."
These are the relevant provisions of Chapter II. Chapter III deals with arbitration with intervention of a court when there is no suit pending. Section 20 is the only section in the Chapter and provides for an application to be made in the court for appointment of an arbitrator in accordance with the agreement; Sub-section (5) lays down that the arbitration shall then proceed in accordance with and shall be governed by, the other provisions of the Act so far as they can be made applicable.
In other words, Sections 14 to 17 will apply to the award made by him. Chapter IV deals with arbitration in suits; Section 23 provides for an order by the court referring the matter in difference to arbitration and Section 25 provides for the provisions of the other Chapters applying to the arbitration so far as they can be made applicable. Chapter V contains general provisions which apply to all arbitrations whether with or without intervention of a court or whether in a pending suit or otherwise. Section 30 states the ground on which alone an award can be set aside.
Section 31(2) lays down that all questions regarding the validity, effect or existence of an award (or an arbitration agreement) shall be decided by the court in which the award has been, or may be, filed and by no other court; Sub-section (4) lays down that where in any reference an application under the Act has been made in a court competent to entertain it, that court alone shall have jurisdiction over the arbitration proceedings and subsequent applications arising out of the reference and the arbitration proceedings.
Section 32 bars a suit on any ground whatsoever for a decision upon the existence, effect or validity of an award (or an arbitration agree-ment) and lays down that no award shall be set aside, amended, modified or in any way affected otherwise than as provided in the Act. Section 33 confers upon any party desiring to challenge the existence or validity of an award or to have its effect determined the right of applying to the court for the same.
If he succeeds in satisfying the court that any of the grounds mentioned in Section 30 exists the court will set aside the award. Chapter VI deals with appeals; Section 39 provides for an appeal from an order setting aside or refusing to set aside an award and certain other orders and bars an appeal from any other order. Chapter VII is the last chapter, Section 41 of which makes the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure applicable to the proceedings before the court.
The only provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure to which reference may be made are the provisions which provide for appeals from decrees of Civil Judges. All that is required to complete this statement of the relevant law is to refer to articles 158 and 178 of the Limitation Act. Article 158 lays down that an application to set aside an award or to get it remitted must be filed within thirty days of the date of service of the notice of the filing of the award (given under Section 14(2) of the Arbitration Act), and article 178 lays down that an application under Section 14(2) for the filing in the court of an award must be made within ninety days of the date of service of the notice of the making of the award (given under Section 14(1)).
7. Since no suit lies for a decision upon the effect or validity of an award, no suit can be filed to enforce an award. The Legislature has, therefore, provided for the passing of a decree on the basis of an award so that a party to whom some benefit has been given under the award can avail itself of it by obtaining a decree on the award and executing it. Section 17 is the only section under which a decree can be passed on the basis of an award.
Though there are no words in Section 17 expressly connecting it with the previous provisions, it is to be read not in isolation but in conjunction with Sections 14, 15 and 16. Prom the contents of Sections 14 to 17 and their context it is evident that the scheme of Chapter II is that when an arbitrator makes the award, he must inform the party so that they may within the time prescribed in Article 178 of the Limitation Act apply to the court for an order to the arbitrator to file it in the court.
The award is to be filed in the court by the arbitrator in compliance with an order of the court, if he has not filed it already at the re-quest of either of the parties, and the court after summoning the parties has to decide whether it. requires to be modified or remitted or set aside. If any party desires that the award be set aside he must apply to the court within the time prescribed by Article 158 of the Limitation Act. The words "the court" in Section 17 do not mean any of the courts having jurisdiction to decide the questions forming the subject matter of the reference; they mean the particular court in which the award has been filed under Section 14(2).
Section 17 certainly does not confer jurisdiction upon any court to pass a decree on the basis of an award regardless of whether its jurisdiction has been invoked under Section 14 by the arbitrator's filing the award or by any party's application for its being filed. Surely a court before which an award has been produced for any reason has no jurisdiction to pass a decree on its basis merely because it has jurisdiction to decide the questions forming the subject-matter of the reference.
For instance if an award is produced before such a court in order to supply proof of handwriting, it would not have jurisdiction to pass a decree on its basis. A decree is to be passed only when the court sees no reason to remit the award or set it aside and the power to remit the award is conferred by Section 16; so the provisions of Section 17 are connected with those of Section 16.
There can be no question of the court's remitting the award under Section 16 or of its modifying or correcting it under Section 16 unless it has come within its jurisdiction and Section 14(2) is the only provision by which it is brought within its jurisdiction. All that is laid down in Section 14(2) is that the court must give notice to the parties of the filing of the award; what it should do thereupon is not laid down in it.
If Sections 15, 16 and 17 are not the sections which lay down what it should do, it would mean that there are no provisions in the Act laying down what the court should do with the award; that would surely be an absurd position. There can, therefore, be no doubt that Sections 15, 16 and 17 prescribe the acts that can be done by the court in which the award has been filed under Section 14(2).
That the four sections are to be read as connected with one another also follows from the fact that the only prayer that a party should make in his application under Section 14(2) is that the award be filed in court; he is not required to pray for the passing of a decree on the award, or for its being remitted or set aside or corrected, The law contemplates that a decree will be passed on the basis of the award in the ordinary course or it will be set aside or remitted.
Once the award has been filed in court the law will take its course and a decree will be passed if the award is found to be in order.
8. When a definite procedure from the filing of an award up to the making of a decree is laid down in the Chapter dealing with arbitration without intervention of a court and it contains no provision expressly allowing a decree to be passed in any other manner, it follows that a decree can be passed under Section 17 only in a case starting with the filing of the award or with an application for the filing of the award under Section 14.
Section 31(1) is to the effect that an award may be filed in any court having jurisdiction in the matter to which the reference relates. Of course the word "court" itself is defined in the Act to mean a civil court having jurisdiction to decide the questions forming the subject-matter of the reference, if the same had been the subject-matter of a suit, but more than one civil court may have jurisdiction to decide the questions forming the subject-matter of the reference and Section 32 lays down that the award may be filed in any of them.
What is significant is that the Act lays down in which of the civil courts having jurisdiction an award may be filed but does not lay down which of the civil courts having jurisdiction can make a decree on the basis of it. The reason is not far to seek; once the award has been filed in one court having jurisdiction no other court has jurisdiction to make a decree. Section 33(3) itself states that no application arising out of the arbitration proceedings can be made to a court other than the court in which the award has been filed.
9. Section 14(2) contemplates the filing of the award in the court by the arbitrator; it is not essential that he should himself take it to the court and it is enough if he causes it to be filed. It is true that no formality in the act of filing the award is required; the arbitrator need not make an application for permission or leave to file the award. He can just file the award in the court without any application but the act of filing must be his or on his behalf; if somebody else files it without his authority or not on his behalf, so that he cannot be said to have caused it to be filed, it is not an act to be taken notice of by the Court.
The effect of Section 14(2) is that the court is bound to receive the award and to proceed as laid down in it and the subsequent sections, but cannot be expected to do so whenever an award is produced before it by any person; therefore, the Legislature has laid down that it must be filed or caused to be filed by the arbitrator himself. An arbitrator cannot be said to have caused the award to be filed unless he delivers it to another person with a direction to file it or directs the person, who has custody of it, to file it.
He must intend to file it and must do an act which results in its being filed; otherwise he cannot be said to have caused it to be filed. If an arbitrator simply hands over the award to a party, even if he knows or has reason to believe that the party will file it in the court and it files it, so long as he has not expressly authorised it to file it, he cannot be said to have caused it to be filed.
If some other person files it he must do so as the arbitrator's agent or as observed by the Supreme Court in Kumbha Mawji v. Union, of India, 1953 SCR 878 : (AIR 1953 SC 313) (A), he should have his authority. In that case the arbitrators handed over the award to a party and the party filed it in the court; yet the Supreme Court held that the arbitrators did not cause it to be filed because the party had no authority from them to file it.
In Lachmi Prasad v. Gobardhan Das, AIR 1948 Fat 171 (B), Mukherji J. observed that the filing of an award by an arbitrator is a mere ministerial act, that no solemnity attaches to it and that when he flies the award he is doing an act which the statute requires him to do. But it does not follow that anybody else can do the act without his authority and yet he can be deemed to have caused it to be done. The court cannot ignore the words "cause it to be filed."
In that case in a proceeding started with an application under Section 33 the arbitrator appeared and filed the award in the court and it was held that the filing would be deemed to be filing under Section 14. The present case is distinguishable from that case because here the award was not filed by the arbitrator himself. The trial court obtained it from the record room; nobody filed it before it. in the previous suit, No. 157 of 1946, it had been produced before it by the commissioner, who had been directed to seize it from the arbitrator.
We do not know how the commissioner got possession of the award, whether Lal Chand voluntarily handed it over to him or whether he attached it from his possession. We cannot assume that Lal Chand voluntarily handed it over to him because there are no data on which we can make this assumption, particularly when a commissioner was deputed to go and seize it.
If the commissioner seized it and then produced it in the court it cannot possibly be held that the arbitrator caused it to be filed. Even if the arbitrator handed it over to the commissioner on the latter's showing him the writ of commission and the commissioner produced it in the court, he cannot be said to have caused it to be filed because he did not authorise it to be filed.
The commissioner was an officer of the court and could not be deemed to be the arbitrator's agent; he was on the contrary sent to do an act of aggression against him. It was found in. the earlier suit that there was no filing of the award and that no decree could have been passed. The trial court has wrongly stated in its order that the award was filed in the court by the arbitrator; this was a serious mistake which might have affected the final order passed by. it.
10. Sri Jagdish Swarup vehemently argued that an award can be filed in the court by a party also. He referred to the provisions of Section 38 which allow a party to apply to the court for an order that the arbitrator shall deliver the award to it on payment of his fees and argued that the only object behind the party's being given the right to obtain the award from the arbitrator must be that it can file it in the court and obtain a decree on it.
The Act does not provide for the award coming before the court if the arbitrator dies or refuses to file it in the court or has filed it in another proceeding or has delivered it to a party who refuses to file it in the court. An award is useless unless it is followed up by a decree; prior to the passing of the Arbitration Act of 1940 an award could be sued upon, but now a suit to enforce an award is barred.
It was contended that if the award can be filed in the court by the arbitrator and not by any of the parties, the making of the award would in some cases be rendered futile. There is undoubtedly much force in the contention that if the law is that the award can be filed in the court only by the arbitrator, the making of it would be rendered futile in some cases; but our jurisdiction consists in interpreting the law and not enacting a law.
The arguments that have been advanced are for legislating that a party should be given the right to file the award in the court but would not justify a court's interpreting Section 14 to mean that the award can be filed by a party also. The only right that has been given to a party is to apply to the arbitrator to file the award in the court; there are no words which are capable of being interpreted to mean that it also has the right to file it in the court.
The Arbitration Act which consists of only 49 sections cannot be expected to provide for the myriads of circumstances that can be imagined to exist; as a matter of fact no law can be expected to achieve this. If an arbitrator is determined to destroy the award as soon as he makes it, no law can prevent his doing it. Moreover some of the difficulties pointed out by Sri Jag-dish Swarup are really not insurmountable.
If the award is stolen from the possession of the arbitrator, he may be able to file a signed copy of it in the court. An award affecting immovable property worth more than Rs. 100/- is required to be registered; if the arbitrator loses the award or if he has delivered it to a party who refuses to hand it over back to him or if he has produced it before some tribunal for some other purpose, he can always obtain a copy from the registration department and file it in the court.
Even in the present case it was not impossible for the arbitrators to comply with the direction of the court if given under Section 14(2); even though the award had been seized by the commissioner, they could be directed by the court to file it and they could either file a signed copy of it or authorize the commissioner or the court, that had issued the commission, to file the award in the court.
I have pointed out earlier that if a person, who has the actual custody of the award is directed by the arbitrator to file it in the court and complies with it, the arbitrator has caused it to be filed in the court. It must be conceded that in some rare cases the arbitrator will not be in a position to file the award or cause it to be filed; but it would be for the legislature to provide for a decree being passed on the basis of the award in such cases.
If the law is defective inasmuch as it does not provide for such contingencies, the defect cannot be removed by the court, and certainly not by mis-interpreting the provisions of Section 14. The Supreme Court has clearly held in the case of Kumbha Mawji (A) (supra) that a party cannot file the award in the court except under the arbitrator's authority.
It was only in the alternative that the Supreme Court observed that the High Court of Calcutta had proceeded on the footing that the filing of the award by a party was not a sufficient compliance of Section 14(2) and that it was not argued before the Supreme Court that the assumption of the High Court was erroneous.
11. The trial court has passed the decree in a proceeding commencing with an application for the setting aside of the award; there was no proceeding pending before it when the application was made. The proceedings instituted by Gopal Lal and Hari Prasad through the applications for the filing of the award had ended and were not pending at the time of the application for the setting aside of the award.
In Bengal Jute Mills Co. Ltd. v. Jewraj Hiralal, AIR 1944, Cal 304 (C) and Ratanji Vir-pal and Company v. Dhirajlal Manilal, AIR 1942 Bom 101 (D), an application to set aside the award before the filing of the award under Section 14 was ruled out as incompetent. In Rashid Jamshed Sons and Co. v. Moolchand, AIR 1945 Mad 371 (E), it was held that a party aggrieved by the award can challenge it only through an application under Section 33 and must proceed under Section 14.
Of course there is nothing in Section 33. which confers upon a party the right of challenging the award by an application, to make the right dependent upon the award being previously filed in the court; on the other hand the language is wide enough to permit an application even before the award has been filed in the court. The Limitation Act simply provides for limitation for suits, appeals and. applications; it does not confer rights to institute suits, appeals and applications.
Therefore, article 158 simply prescribes the period of limitation for an application under Section 33 to set aside an award but does not create the right to make such an application; as I said earlier the right has been conferred by Section 33 of the Arbitration Act. Therefore, it cannot be argued from the fact that Article 158 permits such an application to be made at any time within 30 days from the date of service of the notice of the filing of the award that it can be made only after the receipt of the notice.
If an application is made more than 30 days of the receipt of the notice, it should be dismissed as barred by time, but if it is made before the receipt of the notice, it may not be rejected as premature. On the other hand it is true that a party does not suffer merely from the making of the award; so long as no decree has been passed it does not matter whether the award has been made or not.
We are not called upon to decide the question here; but if it is true that an application for the setting aside of the award cannot be made unless it has first been filed in the court, it supports the view that a decree cannot be passed on the basis of an award unless it has been filed in the court under Section 14. So long as the award has not been filed in the court there. is no threat to the rights of any party and, therefore, none, would have any cause of action to apply for the setting aside of the award. The threat arises only when the award is filed in the court because then a decree might be passed on its basis, and hence the right to apply for the setting aside of the award has been granted.
12. A proceeding for the setting aside of an award is a proceeding which commences with an application for the same and terminates when the court sets aside the award or passes an order refusing to do so. An application to set aside the award is expressly provided for in the Act and the only orders that are permitted by the legislature to be passed are (1) setting aside the award and (2) refusing to do so.
The very nature of the application precludes the possibility of any third kind of order such as making the award a rule of the court. It is irrelevant to consider whether a proceeding for the setting aside of the award is a part of the proceeding started with an application under Section 14, or a proceeding independent of it; in either case it will be in the proceeding started with an application under Section 14 that a decree on the basis of the award will be passed.
There is no substance in the contention of Sri Jagdish Swarup that because in a proceeding for the setting aside of the award all the parties to it are before the court, it has jurisdiction to pass a decree on the basis of the award if it is not set aside. Section 17 certainly does not lay down that whenever an award is before the court and it does not see reason to remit it or to set it aside, it can pass a decree.
The very condition expressly laid down in Section 17 that no decree can be passed until the time for applying under s. 33 has expired or the application has been rejected means that the decree is to be passed in the proceeding started under Section 14. If in a proceeding started under Section 33 a decree on the basis of the award could be passed, it would have been essential to provide in Section 17 one more condition that no decree has already been passed in the proceeding for the setting aside of the award.
A proceeding under Section 33 may be made a part of the proceeding under Section 14 but a proceeding under Section 14 cannot be made a part of a proceeding under Section 33 and it seems to me absurd to apply the provisions of Section 17 in a proceeding under Section 33. All that has to be seen in a proceeding under Section 33 is whether the award deserves to be set aside or to be remitted; the question whether a decree should be passed on Its basis is not within the scope of the inquiry in the proceeding.
When a party applies for the setting aside of an award, it is only required to make out a case for its being set aside; it is not required in addition to make out a case for its not being made a rule of the court. When it applies for a direction under Section 14 to the arbitrator to file the award, a decree on the basis of the award will follow if the award is not set aside or remitted, but that would be by operation of the express law.
There is no such operation of the law when it applies under Section 33. A prayer for the passing of a decree on the basis of the award may be implied in the prayer for the filing of an award, but not in an application under s. 33 for the setting aside of the award; on the contrary passing a decree would be quite the reverse of what he prays for.
In view of the bar imposed by Section 32 on an application for the setting aside or amendment of an award or for having it effected in any way, no application for the passing of a decree on the basis of the award can be filed. The necessity for such an application is obviated by the operation of the provisions of Sections 14, 15, 16 and 17. The Limitation Act also prescribes no period of limitation for an application for a decree.
Therefore, no application can be made at all for the passing of a decree in a proceeding under Section 33. In any case there was no such application made by any party and the trial court suo motu passed the decree. It did not give any opportunity to the appellants to show cause why a decree should not be passed and the decree passed against them without hearing them cannot be sustained.
13. If Kanhaiya Lal and Amod Kumar had withdrawn their applications under Section 33, the trial court would have had no jurisdiction to pass a decree. Dismissal of the applications on merits is not distinct from dismissal with consent or on withdrawal and the trial court did not acquire jurisdiction to pass a decree merely because it dismissed them on merits.
14. The view that no decree can be passed in a proceeding under Section 33 is supported by two authorities, Balwant Singh v. Ram Charan Singh, AIR 1944 All 188 CD (F) and Gopi Chand v. Lal Chand, AIR 1956 Pepsu 74 (G). It was held in the former case that Sections 14, 15, 10 and 17 are to be read together and that their provisions cannot be applied in a proceeding under Section 33.
What happened there was that the trial court did not pass a decree after refusing to set aside the award and in the appeal it was urged that it was bound to pass a decree. A Bench of this Court held that it was not. Since the contention was that the trial court was bound, this Court held that it was not, though the reasons given by it show that it had no jurisdiction also. This Court also referred to the fact that no application for the passing of a decree was made; this reference was by way of obiter.
Whether the trial court could have jurisdiction if an application had been made is not at all discussed and there is nothing in the judgment to suggest that this Court would have upheld the decree if it had been passed on an application by the opposite party. In the Pepsu case an application under Section 33 was dismissed as barred by time; then the opposite party made an application under Section 17 for the passing of a decree and it was held that no decree could be passed.
The learned Judges followed the decision in the case of Balwant Singh (F) (supra) and observed that Section 17 does not require that whenever a court passes an order refusing to set aside the award, it must pass a decree on the basis of the award. I respectfully differ from the contrary view taken in the case of Lachmi Prasad (B) (supra). I do not understand how an application under Section 33 can be treated as an application under Section 14 for the filing of the award merely because it is within the prescribed period of limitation.
Whether an application is under one provision or another depends upon its contents and not upon whether it is within the period of limitation prescribed for an application under one provision or the other.
15. Rightly or wrongly the applications of Gopal Lal and Hart Prasad under Section 14 had been dismissed and the orders have become final. Hari Prasad expressly sought a decree on the basis of the award through his review application and it was rejected. There must be an end to litigation and apart from the doctrine of res judicata contained in Section 11, C. P. C., Hari Prasad could not be allowed to apply again for a decree. If he could not apply for a decree he certainly could not get a decree on somebody else's appli-cation.
It is immaterial that his application was dis-missed with his consent. Even if he had with- drawn his application he would have been estopped from bringing a second application. In any case it was unsound on the part of the trial court to pass a decree suo motu after having refused to pass it in a previous proceeding.
16. There is no judgment pronounced by the trial court. It has only passed an order refusing to set aside the award and at once passed a decree. The decree is null and void in the absence of a judgment. After refusing to set aside the award the trial court ought to have pronounced a judgment on the merits of the disputes between the parties as settled by the award.
17. Though the trial court has ordered a decree to be passed no decree has been prepared yet. What purports to be a decree is nothing but a formal order; it reproduces the operative words of the order of the trial court. It is on the form of a decree but that would not convert it into a decree if according to its contents it was not a decree. I do not understand how it can be treated as a decree when it itself directs a decree to be prepared.
Since a decree is to be prepared in compliance with it, it itself cannot be a decree. Since there is no decree, the bar imposed by Section 17 on an appeal does not operate. Moreover Section 17 bars an appeal from a decree (except on the ground of its being in excess of the award) only if the decree is passed in a proceeding governed by Sections 14, 15, 16 and 17. Surely if some court passed a decree on the basis of an award without having jurisdiction or without the award having been filed properly before it, it cannot be con-tended that no appeal would lie from it except on the ground that it is in excess of the award.
It is true that there is no right of an appeal from any order except an order setting aside or refusing to set aside the award. Here the appeal is from an order refusing to set aside an award, but when disposing of the appeal it is open to this Court, to set aside any consequential or incidental order passed by the trial court. Even if the order refusing to set aside the award is maintained on appeal, any consequential or incidental order passed by it without jurisdiction or wrongly can be set aside.
In any case it can be set aside by us In exercise of our revisional jurisdiction and we can exercise our revisional Jurisdiction while exercising our appellate jurisdiction. It is not essential that there should be an application under Section 115, C. P. C., before we can exercise our revisional jurisdiction. Revisional jurisdiction is certainly discretionary, but in the present case there is every reason for our exercising it to set aside the order of the trial court which was not only without jurisdiction but also against the principle of estoppel and the principle of natural Justice that no order should be passed against a person without giving him an opportunity to be heard.
Sri Jagdish Swarup pleaded that if substantial justice had been done by the direction of the trial court that a decree shall follow we should not interfere, but justice ought to be done in accordance with the law, and moreover since we do not know the merits of the disputes between the parties we are not in a position to say that the decree is in accordance with the legitimate rights of the parties.
Even if the formal order were treated as a decree, we would have jurisdiction to set aside the decree. Section 17, as said already, does not bar an appeal from any decree passed in any circumstance whatsoever; it bars an appeal only if the decree was passed in a proceeding under Sections 14, 15, 16 and 17. If it was passed in another proceeding, it would be appealable as a decree under the Code of Civil Procedure.
18. The appeal should be partly allowed, the order of the trial court that the award be made a rule of the court and a decree in terms of the same be passed be set aside and the rest of the order be maintained. The order to set aside was passed by the trial court suo motu but the contesting respondent Hari Prasad has supported it in vain and he should be made to bear half of the appellant's costs of the appeal.
19. I agree.
20. BY THE COURT : We partly allow the appeal, set aside the order of the trial court that the award be made a rule of the court and that a decree in terms of the same be passed and maintain the rest of the order. We order that the appellants will get half of their costs af the appeal from the contesting respondent Hari Prasad.